Brain Food: Your route to the top - How to stay focused

Get to know your working pattern. Match your task to your concentration level throughout the day. If you are at your best first thing, work on something tricky and challenging (and leave the admin until later).

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Set yourself objectives. Create rewards for yourself for finishing specific tasks in an allotted time. Reward yourself only if you reach the goal in time.

Find the right environment. Go to a place where you can tune out distractions, switch the mobile off, close the door, shut down e-mail and let your colleagues know not to disturb you.

Be realistic. Get a good balance between your skills and the challenge you face. Too much challenge and you feel anxious; too much skill and you become bored.

Disconnect. Take a brief break - walk around the square or chat to a colleague - before knuckling down. The break will increase your focus and encourage clear thinking.

Don't panic. Separate what you can achieve from what is beyond your influence.

Then concentrate on getting on with what you can do.

Try interval working - spend 15 minutes focused on something, change to another task and then go back for another focused 15 minutes.

Be challenging. Ask yourself and others all the tough questions upfront, so that when you begin you know exactly what you are aiming for.

Be accountable. Tell someone what you are working on and ask them to review your output later in the day.

Take care of your physical self. Sleep, water, food and exercise are the essential ingredients of a focused mind. Make sure you have enough of each.

The Mind Gym, www.themindgym.com. The organisation's latest book is reviewed in MT this month.

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